Thursday, December 16, 2010

George Washington and Milton, North Carolina

What possible connection could President George Washington have to Milton, Caswell County, North Carolina? He did not sleep there, even though residents at one time circulated that fable (that he slept at the Union Tavern). Nor is he known to have ever visited Milton. The only documented visit by George Washington to Caswell County was the night he stayed at the home of Dudley Gatewood during Washington's "Southern Tour" (3 June 1791).

No, the Milton connection is not physical, it is a family one (at least by marriage) and involves the family of famous explorer Meriwether Lewis!

A historic home in Milton is known as the Clay-Lewis-Irvine-Thomas House. It sits atop the hill and has a commanding view of the countryside. Its second owner was Nicholas Meriwether Lewis, who was born in Caswell County, North Carolina (1801-1889).

Nicholas Meriwether Lewis is a first cousin once removed of famous Louisiana Purchase explorer Meriwether Lewis (1774-1809). So, what is the George Washington connection?

Betty Washington (1733-1797) is the younger sister of President George Washington. In 1750, she married one Fielding Lewis (1725-1781). This Fielding Lewis is a first cousin twice removed of the Nicholas Meriwether Lewis who lived in Milton, North Carolina. Thus, a brother-in-law of President George Washington is a first cousin twice removed of Caswell County's Nicholas Meriwether Lewis.

However, it gets even better as George Washington and Nicholas Meriwether Lewis actually share a common ancestor and are true second cousins twice removed. George Washington's paternal  great grandfather is Augustine Warner. This Augustine Warner also is the third-great grandfather of Caswell County's Nicholas Meriwether Lewis, thus creating the second cousin twice removed relationship. Note also that Caswell County's Elizabeth Harrison Smith (1772-1838) is George Washington's second cousin twice removed.

Biography: Washington: A Life, Ron Chernow (2010)



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